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Nissan EV driven

  • Precursor to Nissan Leaf
  • We drive the EV
  • Details of charging network
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This is the Nissan EV (electric vehicle), a precursor to the company's Leaf electric car that goes on sale in the UK at the end of 2010.

Nissan's EV uses the Leaf's platform, motor and battery set up, but is housed in the Tiida small family car that's sold in Japan.

The car uses lithium-ion batteries to power the 115bhp motor. These are in 48 battery modules beneath the floor, with four thin battery cells in each module.

The car is expected to have a range of about 100 miles and a top speed of 90mph.

What's it like to drive?

We took the Nissan EV for a short drive round the company's development track at its Oppama factory in Japan, and the EV felt like a small car should, with just a few differences from a conventionally powered car.

In the electric car, power delivery is instant and extremely smooth. Nissan says that the initial surge of power comes more quickly than in an Infiniti G37, which is powered by a 3.7-litre V6 engine.

There are no gears, just instantaneous power as soon as you press the accelerator.

It's quiet, too: all you hear is a whine when you accelerate and a small amount of road noise.

The EV's rear legroom is compromised slightly, because the floor is raised to accommodate the batteries, and the boot isnt the biggest, either.

We'll be stepping inside the Leaf when it goes on display at the Tokyo motor show on Wednesday, so will report back then on cabin space.

What about recharging?

A full charge at home can take between eight and 16 hours, depending on the domestic electricity supply. Fast-charging stations can provide an 80% charge in just 30 minutes.

Nissan is in consultation with more than 30 local and national governments to help establish a global charging network.

An announcement is expected by the British Government early next year, in which it will reveal the location of six cities that will be the UK's electric charging hubs. It's expected that regional networks will then grow from these.

How much will the Leaf cost?

Prices for the Leaf have yet to be revealed, although Nissan says that an electrically powered car should cost no more to buy and run than a conventional petrol-engined vehicle.

The British Government has indicated that it will give incentives of up to £5000 towards the cost of electric vehicles, to encourage consumers to switch to them from conventionally powered cars.

Ministers are set to announce how their electric-vehicle incentives will be managed by early next year.

Nissan wants the Leaf to be the world's first affordable electric car, which is why it has opted to make a mass-market small family car.

Expect an electric city car to follow, as well as a small commercial vehicle. Nissan expects to make five electric models over the next five years.